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Loading... ## Einstein in 90 Minutes## by John Gribbin, Mary Gribbin
- 00The Hunt for Vulcan: . . . And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe by Thomas Levenson (themulhern)
themulhern: A follow up to this simple biography of Einstein. Also lively, but has a much larger cast of characters, and begins a few centuries before Einstein is born. But many of the same themes are in evidence.
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In three sections, prelude, brief biography, and timeline. I do not understand why there was an "ultraviolet catastrophe" (this is just one of the things that are, necessarily, not explained well enough to be actually understood). But it gives a nice, birds-eye view, without any annoying asides.

Einstein's early work, while he worked at the patent office, was some of his most important. Both his work on Brownian motion and his thesis work required extensive statistical analysis. He received the Nobel prize for his work on the photoelectric effect. And he went off the rails and came up with special relativity and then with the equivalence of matter and energy (E = mc^2). Note that c isn't just the speed of light, it is the speed of any massless particle, of which the photon is just one example. In 1908 Einstein is just barely an academic, with a position as a Privatdozent at the University of Berne. Prudently, he keeps his day job. Minkowski's interest, and introduction of the four dimensional space-time gives him a boost, and he becomes a full professor at Zurich in 1909. After several more appointments, Einstein, now very desirable, is lured away to Berlin, but unfortunately WWI starts. He develops his theory of general relativity, and his health declines. The explanation of general relativity, while short, makes slightly more sense than in some other books. At the age of 40, Einstein becomes famous, in part because the verification of his theory is an English effort, and symbolic of the peace that was finally ensuing.

Cute detail, Einstein's divorce agreement included transferring the monetary portion of his Nobel prize award to his wife. He hadn't won it yet, but everybody knew it was due in a few years. Einstein was on a trip to Caltech when the Nazis came to power, he never went back.

Einstein came up with the idea of spooky action at a distance to show how ridiculous quantum theory was, regrettably, it seems to occur.

He could not believe that space was expanding or contracting, so he introduces a "comsological constant", which he subsequently regretted.

Overall, a nice straightforward book, which probably does only take 90 minutes to read. ( )